Parents and Children Who Are Estranged in Adulthood: A Review and Discussion of the Literature.

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Abstract

This review examines what is known about estrangement between parents and their adult children in terms of definition, prevalence, causes, and consequences. Estrangement has been defined and conceptualised in different ways, although most definitions have focused on the negative quality of the relationship and the voluntarily or intentional decision of at least one family member to initiate and maintain distance. A diverse range of factors which are often interlinked has been found to contribute to estrangement. The consequences of estrangement from a parent or child include experiencing reduced levels of psychological well-being, feelings of loss, and experiences and/or perceptions of stigma. The estrangement literature has the potential to reveal variation in the quality of parent-child relationships in adulthood so that family scholars can move beyond our assumptions and understand family relationships as they are, rather than how they could or ‘should’ be.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Family Theory and Review
Early online date15 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Nov 2017

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